It was once said that ‘a good father is worth more than a hundred school teachers’.
A quote that may appear on a few cards across Ireland today, but never was the old adage truer than when it comes to boxing.
The father-son bond is something that is lauded in every walk of life, but when it comes to pugilism it seems more prevalent than in any other sport.
Sigmund Freud quotes are more acquainted to being typed by those arguing points in their university thesis, but his ‘I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection,’ remark might go some way to describing why we see so many father’s manning the corners of their children in a sporting art that is known as noble, but always remains dangerous.
Here at Irish-boxing.com we have decided to do a Father’s Day special and have a look at some of the Irish-boxing father-child boxing relationships. No doubt a host of fighters have had the first set of gloves strapped up by the fathers and Ireland has a host of noteworthy families, but we have elected to pick the most noteworthy match ups.
Feel free to highlight the ones we have missed.
Paddy Hyland – Eddie, Patrick, and Paulie Hyland.
The Hyland’s are Tallaght’s most notable and successful fight family. Indeed, they may just be the area’s most standout sporting clan.
The late Paddy Hyland was the inspiration to the dynasty. Hyland Senior set up Golden Cobra BC and guided his three sons to Irish titles at various age groups and levels.
All three had contrasting styles and the fact their father coached them only further highlighted his ability and a boxing mentor.
All three also impressed as pros and in the early parts of their paid career Paddy Hyland was coach, manager, and even promoter on occasion. Eddie Hyland was an all-action entertainer. The oldest of the three brothers’s fights with Oisin Fagan and Kevin O’Hara are recounted with joy by those lucky enough to witness them in the flesh. The 16-2 fighter claimed Irish title success at super featherweight and the fact his career coincided with somewhat of a lull in Dublin boxing scene probably prevented him from progressing to European level.
Patrick Hyland, who faces Josh Warrington in Leeds on July 30th, also claimed Irish title success, winning the featherweight belt with victory over cousin Paul Griffin. ‘The Punisher’ has also challenged for WBA interim honours and the famous WBC World strap.
Paulie Hyland, the youngest and arguably the most technically gifted of the three is a two time Irish super bantamweight champion and fought in the first ever all-Irish European title fight, losing to Willie Casey in Limerick.
Pete Taylor – Katie Taylor
It’s not just fathers and sons who have worked together to achieve great things in Irish boxing. Arguably the World’s greatest ever female fighter Katie Taylor enjoyed the majority of her success with her father in her corner.
That success culminated with London 2012 Olympic gold. Taylor’s victory over Russia’s Sofya Ochigava in the decider has already gone down in Irish folklore, but apart from just making history the win had a massive degree of charm about it. Not did it ensure that Taylor, who had fought so hard to get the female side of the game recognised, got the recognition her sensational ability deserved, but because in the moments after the result was read out there was a special father-daughter moment.
Pete Taylor, a straight-talking focused coach, turned into a proud father as he hugged his daughter post victory with tears in his eyes in an embrace that was more than just teacher-student.
Taylor’s success has seen her forge a reputation as the most outstanding athlete of her generation and her father played a massive part.
Philip Sutcliffe Sr – Phillip Sutcliffe Jr
Phil Sutcliffe Sr has proven a father figure to a host of fighters who have come through the doors of Crumlin BC.
The two-time Olympian has coached a host of locals to Irish title success and rotates between underage, amateur and pro coach.
However, one fighter who has to call him Dad (or in this case Da) is big Philip Sutcliffe Jr.
‘Succo’ hasn’t just inherited the punching power of his father, but has learnt from the respected coach from a young age. The avoided light welterweight has had National Senior success in an era packed with talent at his weight. Indeed he is the only fighter to progress through a Seniors by registering a knock down in each round.
The 26 year old, who next fights on July 2nd in Oldham, is now forging a career as a pro and hopes to challenge for the European title before the year is out, a strap Sutcliffe Snr already won as a coach with Willie Casey.
Paul Hyland Sr – Paul Hyland Jr
Another Hyland paring and another Sr and Jr mix. Paul Hyland Jr has worked with his father throughout his amateur career and now has his father in the corner while he punches for pay.
The undefeated lightweight, who appears on ‘The Future’ show in the National Stadium on June 25th, has proved value for money in all his fights to date and is now looking to kick on past the learning stage and into title fights.
An old-school coach, the pride in Hyland Sr’s eyes when his son traded leather and wows fans in the ring is a sight to behold.
John Conlan – Jamie and Micheal Conlan
Boxing families in Belfast are not at all rare, although the fact this one is headed by a Dub might make it unique.
John Conlan is steeped in the fight game and is a respected amateur coach around the globe.
His two sons are talented punchers in their own right, indeed two of the more talented ones in Ireland at present.
Their father currently works that bit closer with younger brother Micheal considering his role in the international amateur set-up, but has worked closely in developing both talents.
John Conlan oversaw his son’s Ulster and Irish amateur success, while older brother Jamie has often manned seconds in his sibling’s Irish title wins.
Indeed the current super flyweight World title hopeful played a significant role in the start of the current AIBA World champion and Olympic Bronze medal winner’s success, turning pro rather than fight his brother in an Ulster final, and thus leaving space for his brother to become Ireland’s main amateur flyweight.
The pair’s father may not coach Jamie in the pros, but is key to Ireland’s international Olympic hopes, which Micheal looks set to play a key role in, but has given both their grounding in boxing and is often quoted by Jamie as one of his advisers/critics.
Brendan Dunne – Bernard Dunne
One of the most memorable moments of one of Ireland’s leading fight-light’s career was the celebrations of his parents seen on TV seconds after the great Jimmy Magee burst into a chorus of ‘Bernard Dunne is the champion of the World, Bernard Dunne is champion of the World’.
But Brendan Dunne was more than just chief cheerleader for the Dublin Destroyer. Again the St Matthews boss man didn’t man his son’s corner in his pro career, but was his coach when he stood out as an amateur and the two-time Olympian had an inspirational impact in the World champion’s formative years.
Steve Collins – Steve Collins Jr
It must be tough to be a boxer when your dad was a World champion, and it must be near-impossible when you take up the sweet science in your twenties, but Steve Collins Jr is making a good go of it.
Initially The Wolfhound was a promising rugby player, scrumming up a storm for Lansdowne RFC, but Collins would learn that he is a natural fighter following an impromptu session on the pads with his uncle Paschal.
Indeed it is the two-weight World champion’s brother who is guiding Collins Jr, but The Celtic Warrior is a constant presence in the corner, and mine of advice for the 26 year old.
Barry McGuigan – Shane McGuigan
The legendary WBA featherweight king first introduced his son to boxing in Shane’s teenage years as a means of self-defence and to lose weight.
The Clones Cyclone would coach his son to National U21 and Ulster Senior titles, before Shane chose against a professional boxing career and went into strength and conditioning.
Barry would provide his son with an opportunity to provide S&C for Carl Frampton, and Shame would eventually assume the role of chief trainer for ‘The Jackal’ en-route to becoming the youngest lead-trainer to coach a World champion.